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Wayne Cavadi | | January 31, 2021

DII Report: The latest men's basketball Power 10 rankings and the return of college baseball and softball

No. 10 Findlay knocks off No. 23 Hillsdale on game-winning buzzer-beater

Brace yourself DII sports fans. There are multiple DII sports being played at once. It was another wild week of upsets in DII men’s basketball as baseball and softball saw some top-25 teams make their long-awaited debut.

There are updated DII men’s basketball rankings as well as our preseason top-25 for DII baseball and a whole bunch more you may have missed. Let’s go around the world of DII sports in this week’s DII Report.

The DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings

What a wild week, as more top-25 upsets filled the scoreboard. West Virginia State dominated the second half in upsetting West Liberty. The Hilltoppers came in at No. 3 the last time we checked in on the rankings and have now lost two in a row. DBU debuted at No. 10 two weeks ago and was beaten by Texas-Permian Basin. The Falcons have now picked up wins against nationally-ranked foes on consecutive weekends. Central Missouri also stunned No. 22 Missouri Western. And let's not forget Western Colorado ended Colorado Mesa's undefeated start to the season. Will that bump the Mavericks from the Power 10?

The rankings are going to look a bit different.

First, a quick rundown of how my Power 10 works. These are my picks, and mine alone. In the past, I've tried to stick as closely to the same criteria that the selection committee uses come tournament time, but this is a much different season. That said, there will be some recency bias in play, and if there was a tight line to draw, I went with the red-hot team. 

1. Northwest Missouri State — The Bearcats did their best impersonation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this week. They narrowly escaped an upset to Lincoln (MO) thanks to a Ryan Hawkins put-back at the buzzer and took it out on Central Missouri two days later in an 80-37 victory. Northwest Missouri State is now 12-1 and looks like the fine-tuned machine it has been the past two seasons. 

2. Colorado School of Mines — The Orediggers finally returned to action and didn't miss a beat. Mines played its first game since Jan. 4 and defeated Adams State 86-70. Five Orediggers scored in double figures and Austin Means recorded his first double-double of the season. That's the beauty of this team, you don't know which player will have the big night because they are deep with talent. That defense is tough as well. 

3. Northern State — The Wolves are now 10-0 and are showing they can win games of all sorts, whether it's dominating from start to finish or grinding out a tough win when not at their best. It doesn't matter how they win, because undefeated is undefeated anyway you cut it. Parker Fox earned national recognition as the player of the week last week and didn't slow down, averaging 23 points over the weekend on an absurd 78.5 percent shooting. He's also averaging a double-double on the season.

4. Lincoln Memorial — The Railsplitters are now 14-1. And man, can they score. Just days after being held to a season-low 70 points, they erupted for 108 on Saturday. That's the eighth time they've crossed the century mark this season. Devin Whitfield (21.9 points per game) and Cam Henry (15.4) lead five Railsplitters that are scoring in double figures. Expect to see a deep run into March from this squad. 

5. West Texas A&M — The Buffs haven't played since Jan. 16 and remain at 5-1. We know the story here. West Texas A&M can run the floor with anyone behind some of the best guard play in the country. Joel Murray and Qua Grant are combining for 42.8 points, 16.3 rebounds and nearly five assists per game. The scary part is that this team has three legitimate scorers outside of their dynamic duo.

6. Truman — The Bulldogs have dealt with postponements since our last rankings and still sit at 10-1. That means all five of their starters are still averaging in double figures while shooting over 50 percent. Like we said last time, Dylan Peeters has been one of the most dominating players in the Division, averaging 13 points on 54.5 percent shooting to go along with 10.2 rebounds and a team-high 11 blocks and 10 steals. 

7. Findlay — The Oilers are back on track after the loss to Walsh a couple of weeks ago. And what an odd blowout loss that was, clearly an anomaly, with Findlay having won their last five by an average of 24.6 points per game. This team has great guard play and a lot of weapons that force teams to keep up with their pace.

8. Mercyhurst — This defense is really good and we all know what they say about winning championships, so I will spare you the cliche. The Lakers are now 6-0 and and really haven't played a close game yet. They are allowing a paltry 58.3 points per game and winning games by an average of 23.5 points. This team is also deep with Steve Cannady, Nicholas Lang and Melkisedek Moreaux combining for 27.5 points per game as key reserves.

9. Alabama-Huntsville — The Chargers were No. 10 in the preseason and fell out after an opening day blowout loss to Lincoln Memorial. They've reeled off six-straight wins since and look like the team we thought they were. Sam Orf is a solid all-around player and it feels like Max Schulman hasn't really gotten it going yet and is still averaging near a double-double per night. This team is a contender. 

10. Lubbock Christian — There is some good basketball going down in the Lone Star Conference, huh? The Chaps are now 10-0, which is pretty impressive coming off a 19-10 season last year. Parker Hicks leads the way with 16.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The showdown with West Texas A&M in the final weekend of the regular season has suddenly taken on enormous meaning. 

5 things we loved this past week in DII women's basketball

  • What a week for Fort Hays State. Nebraska-Kearney entered the week 12-0 and No. 3 in our Power 10, but end the week 12-2 with a pair of losses to the Tigers. Five Tigers scored in double figures on Saturday to complete the sweep and move into a first-place tie in the MIAA.
  • Think Daemen is happy to be back in action? It took the Wildcats until Jan. 16 to finally play some basketball, but they're now 4-0 after an impressive 70-68 victory over previously undefeated Gannon on Saturday. The two will face off on Sunday for Round 2. 
  • Tusculum is now 11-1 on the season. After falling to Carson-Newman last week for their first loss, the Pioneers bounced back to hand Catawba its first loss of the season. Maddie Sutton had a double-double, because, of course she did.
  • Drury played some basketball this weekend. The Panthers, who hadn't played since Jan. 6, are now 10-0 and winners of 42 straight games dating back to last season. 
  • Can we talk about East Central? The Tigers were 10-18 a season ago, and improved to 8-1 this past weekend. They earned a signature win, handing Southwestern Oklahoma State its lone loss of the season last week, and picked up two more dominating wins this week. Kendall Schulte and Mackenzie Crusoe are leasing the chard offensively. 

DII college baseball is back

There was real, live college baseball played this past weekend for the first time since last March. With five teams converging on Minute Maid Park in Houston, we released the preseason top 25 and first Power 10 of the season on Thursday. You missed it? Don't worry, we have you covered, just click or tap on the link below. 

2021 DII college baseball preseason power rankings from 25 to 1 

Five teams — Lubbock Christian, Arkansas-Fort Smith, St. Mary's, Arkansas Tech and Central Missouri — took the field in Houston. While there is still some baseball left to be played on Sunday, our preseason No. 3, Central Missouri, completed its weekend on Saturday, leaving Houston with a 3-1 record. 

It wasn't easy for the Mules. They trailed by at least two runs in all three of their wins, playing some thrilling come-from-behind baseball. Outfielder Josh Schumacher is off to a scorching hot start, grabbing four hits in three games including a home run. Evan Rathburn shut down two of the victories and already has two saves on the young season. The Mules are off until mid-February when they face No. 24 Davenport. 

So is DII softball

At least the new DII softball season started off with some familiarity after such a long layoff. Southern Arkansas opened the season No. 1 in the rankings and slugged its way to a 2-0 start while scoring 29 runs in the process. 

West Florida swept No. 19 Lubbock Christian on its opening weekend. In doing so, the Argos tallied the first walk-off win of the season, beating the Lady Chaps 2-1 in a pitcher's duel in Game 1, before cruising to a 7-1 victory in Game 2. 

And throw Catawba in the mix of 2-0 teams to start the season. The Indians went undefeated in a pair of one-run games against Augusta. Brittany Ireland slugged a pair of homers for Catawba in Game 2.

DII football: Rogan Wells heads to Tusculum

The big news out of the DII football world was that now-former Valdosta State quarterback Rogan Wells is transferring to the South Atlantic Conference and will play his final year of eligibility with the Tusculum Pioneers. Per a statement from head coach Gary Goff, the move allows Wells to go play for his brother who coaches at Tusculum and be closer to his family in these odd times. Wells was named Valdosta State's player of the decade of the 2010s and had a memorable 2019 in which he had a record-setting performance in leading the Blazers to an undefeated national championship.

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